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I saw a train of these in Quebec and then an identical train in Montreal, doing on an airport what tugs and icebreakers do on the nearby rivers.

Any ideas on the manufacturer?  I guessed Bombardier . . .

This photo I took last summer in upstate NY near the snowiest town in the state, but this is for clearing roads and streets, not airports.

The one above is an Oshkosh, so how about this one?

Here’s the answer.  I’d have guessed Oshkosh, which started up in 1917, but Klauer made it.  

So the two photos at the top of the post are Oshkosh Extreme Runway System units aka XRS.  For Canadian airports these seem the right stuff.

All photos by Will Van Dorp, who occasionally slurs his title to truckster.

For some other Oshkosh snow machines and much more, click here. Then scroll.   And more, here.


Thanks to Marc, I offer this post that could also be called Océan Blue 7.

Arranged chronologically, these photos nicely show the intrusion of ice on the Saint Lawrence.

Starting on October 12, 2017, it would be t-shirt weather on Ocean Duga

taken in port of Sorel-Tracy.  Duga (4000 hp from 2 Wichman 7-cylinder engines) was built in Lansten, Norway in 1977.  Notice laker Tecumseh at the grain dock;  I took photos from the river of Ojibway at that same dock less than a week earlier.

Hercule, taken on November 11, 2017, enjoys autumn warmth here.  Notice the Jamaican flag on her mast just below the conical roof of the silo?  She’s been sold out of the Ocean fleet, but here are all five of her former names, including a stint as a McAllister of Canada vessel.  Here’s more McAllister history.

Ocean Bravo was already scraping some ice on her hull on December 26, 2017.  Built in 1970 right across the river from Quebec City, the 110′ x 28′ tug is powered by 3900 hp.  I photographed her in Trois-Rivieres in October.

Ocean Bertrand Jeansonne is a 5000 hp tug built in PEI for Ocean in 2008.  This photo was

taken the day after Christmas.  Federal Tweed, as of this moment,  is anchored

off Sorel. This jetster photo nicely shows the Richelieu River, the outflow for Lake Champlain.

Ocean Delta is another vessel no longer in the Ocean fleet.  The 136′ 1973 tug is rated at 6464 hp, launched in Ulsteinvik, Norway.  Birk got a photo of her here in 2012.

taken the day after Christmas.  It appears that CCGS Tracy has been converted into a floating office for Ocean Group and renamed Ocean Tracy.  I got a photo of CCGS Tracy when she was for sale in October 2016 here.

On December 30, 2017 Ocean Tundra was heading upstream to help clear the last vessels out of the Seaway before it closed.  Recall the assistance Federal Biscay required to get out?   Note the sea smoke as the 8,046 hp vessel exposes the relatively warmer water to the seriously cooler air.

Imagine what all that ice does to the hull coatings, particularly at the bow.

And finally, we’re up to January 31, 2018, as La Prairie muscles through the ice.

I appreciate these “seasonal change” photos taken by Marc Piché, a glimpse of traffic in winter on the mighty Saint Lawrence.

Few things about flying rival “window seat,” as they complement my lifelong fascination with maps and, later, charts.  Of course, few things are as frustrating as realizing I’m sitting on the wrong side of the airplane and can’t just run to the other side.  Anyhow, let’s play a game of window seat IDs of photos of the flight from NYC (LGA) to Quebec City with a change in Montreal.  See what you can identify here, and then I’ll post them again with annotations/identification.





#1 again.  From left to right is downstream.  Red number 1 is the South Shore Canal, the downstream-most canalized portion of the St. Lawrence Seaway.  Red number 2 is the Lachine Rapids, so-named by Jacques Cartier and the whole reason for the locks at this location.  Cartier thought the route to China lay above the rapids, hence, La Chine.

#2 again.  Again, from left to right is downstream. Red number 1 is Habitat 67, 2 is a certain icebound brand-spanking-new US warship that will be left unnamed, 3 is the old port of Montréal, 4 is a lock in the Lachine Canal, and 5 is a certain formerly McAllister tugboat.

#3 again.  Here, bottom to top is downstream.  Red 1 is one of many random bits of ice flowing downstream toward Quebec City more or less at the location of Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures, where the St. Lawrence is about two miles wide, i.e., half mile chunks of ice.

#4 again.  Red 1 is the Citadelle, 2 is Chateau Frontenac, 3 is the entrance to Bassin Louise i.e.,  a location in the ice canoe racing posts, and 4 is the bulk and containerized port of Quebec City. The long unmarked structure between 3 and 4 is the now G3 grain elevator.  To see a G3 (Global Grain Group) ship on Lake St. Clair, click here and scroll.

All photos and attempts at identification by Will Van Dorp, who’s also responsible for any misidentifications or omissions. And if you ever decide to buy me a ticket to fly somewhere, make mine a window seat or cockpit jumpsuit.

Here’s an index of my jester posts, which started summer of 2017.


This is the grande finale, although you’ll notice I didn’t know when the finalization would  . . . finalize.  Spotters on the bow of the safety boat watch the canoeists through the snow squalls.

And at 31 minutes after the start, the first boat  (Archibald micro brasserie) returning from the Lévis side comes into view,

pursued by two others.

Archibald lands and races home….


with the next two running close together.

Three more arrive closely clumped.



But that’s when I realized I’d missed an important detail:  they make more than one lap!  Notice the Archibald team heading back out!  Later I believe I understood they were disqualified, although I didn’t understand why.

Now I understand that it’s more a marathon than a sprint.



At this point I head back to point 1 (See yesterday’s map.) to watch from the start/finish line.  Notice the three incoming boats from over by the pine trees where I got the previous photos from.

The two teams push their canoe past the two 8200+ hp behemoths  

to take the checkered flag.  By this time, I’ve lost track of who’s who and in what place.

Here’s a tavern to help you celebrate.  Care for a glass of Caribou?  Click here to learn the secret of the incongruous plastic canes I saw a lot of men carrying.

I headed up the street past the ice taverns so that after tasting something I had to go only downhill to my snowcave.

These ice bars–I was told–go up around Christmas and by March start to melt.  For now, they are exquisite.  And the bottles to the right of Jaegermeister are local spirits:  Quartz, Chic choc rum, Coureur des bois whiskey, and Ungava gin.

As I said, from the ice bars it’s downhill to my snow cave inside the walled city and return to hibernation.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.  For more photos, click here.  For a video clip of the snow bath–I did NOT indulge–click here.

For some photos of a clear winter’s day in Quebec City last year, click here.  For more frozen St. Lawrence riverbanks photographed in 2017, click here.


The premier event of Carnaval de Québec has become ice canoeing, a unique sport stemming from early French settlement along the St. Lawrence:  in summer boats connected the opposite sides of the river, and in winter sleds traversed, but during the times between, canoes alone could provide this contact.  The need for treacherous crossings ended after the introduction of steamboats and building of bridges.

Now, hazards are addressed, and a total of 290 canoeists raced this year, 58 canoes.  Rules require that canoes weigh at least 225 pounds and provide a prescribed amount of flotation.

Use the map below to orient yourself.  The top three photos I took standing at point 1 looking toward the river.  Here a crane lowers a canoe onto the frozen portion of outer part of Bassin Louise.

See the pine tree cluster in the photo above?  That’s point 2.  U is upstream (to the right) and D, downstream (to the left).  The race happened on an ebb tide, so ice floes moved at 4 to 5 knots from U to D.  Obviously, since the race is from 1 to 2 to 3 for four crossings, racers leave the bassin and turn upstream, making the course triangular.


The rest of these photos I took from point 2, over near the pine trees.  Here the safety tug Ocean Henry Bain departs the bassin to break up ice that’s gathered at the opening over the past hour.

You can barely make out the city of Lévis–marked as 3 on the map–on the other side.

The bonhomme banner flies from the mast.

After the third prolonged blast from Ocean Henry Bain, the first racers–the elite women’s teams– depart, five -person crews wearing spiked crampons push the waxed bottomed canoes to open water.  The technique here is this:  keep two hands and one knee on the boat at all times in case your boot goes through.

Note the crowd;  numbers estimation has become a contentious sport in itself, but I’d guess 10,000 spectators braved the cold to be there.

Here the transition from pushing to rowing–with spiked oars–


Ten minutes later, other teams head out, again after a third blast from Ocean Henry Bain. 

Only the crew member at the stern has a paddle, rather than an oar.

Recall that at this point, crews turn upstream to contend with the 4 to 5 knot current;  the water flows that fast, and any ice chunks there do too.  So the technique here is to get momentum upstream ASAP.

Or else.  Here the blue canoe–heading for the tug, i.e., the wrong direction, got pushed downstream by that ice floe.  The red canoe also going the wrong way got turned by the blue canoe.  The three teams on the ice need to get to open water upstream ASAP because they are floating downstream.

Click on the photo of Jean Anderson below to get the article I’ve copied it from, but you’ll have to translate it.  Anderson is ice canoeing royalty,  a perennial champion of this event, as well as an innovator of gear for the sport.  Jean and his brother Jacques are mentioned in this article in English.

If you decide you have to witness ice canoeing, four more races are coming up in the next 30 days:  Montreal Feb. 11, Isle -aux-Coudres Feb. 17, Sorel-Tracy Feb. 24, and the grand championship back at Bassin Louise March 3.

All photos by Will Van Dorp, who wonders what other unique sports events like this there are . . .  All I can think of right now are woodcutters festival like the one in Tupper Lake and Boonville and the Iditarod.  Surfing maybe?  Schooner racing?  Eleven Cities Tour? Bronc riding?  Help me out here.

To start out, here’s the Groupe Océan dock in the old port of Quebec.   The large tug to the left is Ocean Taiga; its twin Ocean Tundra is to its right.  Here’s my article on the 8200 hp twins (118′ loa x 42′) in February 2018 issue of ProfessionalMariner.

Question:  As the temperature range at this location this past weekend was a high of 12 F to a low of -6 F, is that ice safe to walk on?  Quebec has 12′ tides.

The photo above shows the entrance to Bassin Louise.  Below, Ocean Clovis T enters the bassin from the River after assisting a ship into the commercial port.  Note the straight-line break in the ice and the open water there?  To the left of that line, the ice is still;  to its right, the flood tide moves the ice upstream.  Interestingly, Ocean Clovis T used to be called Stevns Icequeen.

Now I digress, but I’ll get back to the icy river soon.  I went to Quebec for Winter Carnaval– Carnaval de Québec, originally celebrated in 1894 and then annually since 1955.  When you see “-ons” at the end of a French word, often it’s a verb and makes a suggestion.  Dansons means let’s dance.  Carnavalons means let’s carnival . . . sort of like Mardi Gras, that other pre-Lenten festival, just in a different climate.  Allons!

Above and below, the red-hatted guy is the mascot of the Carnaval, aka bonhomme carnaval, and his image is everywhere . . . like Santa Claus but it unrelated to Christmas.  He’s a snowman, i.e., a bonhomme de neige.  The snow sculpture is just called toboggan.   And notice the belt, aka ceinture fléchée, or arrow sash.

Here a sash-wearing inuksuk of ice blocks greets a statue of Champlain.  A variation of the inuksuk was the logo of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

But let’s go back to the River, where tugster meets the duchesses of Carnaval.  See the Chateau Frontenac in the distance in the upper city to the right?  We all have warm smiles for 4 degrees F, eh?

The man dressed like a logger . . . he’s the narrator for the events down by the river;  the vuvuzela bearers on either side, their answering his quiz questions, or trying to.  That’s the River behind them.

So the question .  . could you walk over the ice piles here?  They’ve just been broken up by Ocean Clovis T and,

right behind, Ocean Raynald T (ex- Stevns Iceflower ) after they assisted aptly-named Arctic into a berth in the cargo port.  I posted a photo of the spoon-bowed Arctic here (scroll;  it’s almost the last one) in November.  Ask me and I’ll post more photos of her.

Well, the sauvetage nautique  (water rescue) truck is there next to the pilots’ station.

And farther into the bassin, over by the lock, there ARE folks on the ice setting cones.

More tomorrow.  All photos by Will Van Dorp, except the one with the duchesses.  Any misread of the events is my fault alone.

Marc Piché has photos of St. Lawrence shipping in all seasons, and truth be told, I haven’t had time to look through all these 22,000 + shots, but I will.

Ocean A. Simard recently assisted in getting the last ships out of the Seaway before the end of the season.

Ocean Echo II has appeared on this blog once before.

Ocean Georgie Bain has been here before but without snow cover.

This is what Montreal looks like as the days shorten.  Ocean Jupiter has appeared here before also, but on a rainy fall day.


Also from Marc, have you seen this boat before?  He took it while visiting Boston in January 1978!

Here’s my best matching shot, one that I took at the mouth of the Rondout in June 2012.

Why not another . . . I took this along the Troy waterfront park in 2013.

Many thanks to Marc for use of his photos.


Are you still making calendars?  Here’s another set of 12 candidates, if my count is right.

January could be American Integrity, a product of Sturgeon Bay, WI, 1000′ loa x 105′ and when loaded and photographed from this angle, she looks impossibly long.  Her size keeps her confined to the four upper lakes, being way too large for the Welland Canal.

Since these are two of the same vessel, one could be the inset.  This shot of American Integrity discharging coal at a power plant in East China, MI, seems to shrink her.

Radcliffe R. Lattimer has truly been around since her launch in mid-1978.  Besides the usual plethora of Great Lakes ports, she’s worked between Canada and the Caribbean, been taken on a five-month tow to China for a new forebody, and made trips on the lower Mississippi and Hudson.  I took this photo just south of Port Huron.

Here Arthur M. Anderson waits to load at the docks in Duluth.  I’d love to hear an estimate of tons of bulk cargo she’s transported since her launch in 1952.  For many, Anderson will forever be remembered as the last vessel to be in contact with the Edmund Fitzgerald in November 1975.

Here’s Whitefish Bay upstream from Montreal.  Click here to see her and fleet mate Baie Comeau christened side by side at the Chengxi Shipyard in Jianyin, China, in November 2012.

Cedarglen is another laker that has seen major design changes in its superstructure, having first launched in 1959 in Germany with the bridge midships.  She has the same bridge.  Down bound here near Ogdensburg NY, she’s worked on the Great Lakes since 1979.

Walter J.  McCarthy Jr., here down bound on Lake Superior is another of the thirteen 1000′ boats working the upper four lakes.

Kaye E. Barker has been working since 1952, here in Lake St. Clair down bound.  That’s the tall parts of Detroit in the distance.

Algoma Integrity was launched in 2009 as Gypsum Integrity.

Cason J. Callaway is another 1952 ship, here discharging cargo in Detroit.

Algoway was launched 1977.  Will she be there for the 2018 season?

So from this angle you might think this too will be a laker . . . ., right?

She once was of the same class as Callaway and Anderson above, but .. . between end of the 2007 season and the beginning of the 2008, she was converted to a barge and married to the tug Victory.

Victory was built in 1980.

And to close out the mosaic that is the December page on our hypothetical Lake 2 calendar, it’s a close up of Victory at the elevator in Maumee OH.

All photos by Will Van Dorp, who believes that the number of single hulled lakers will decrease as ATB design becomes predominant.


To start, these are boats, I’m told, not ships.  I first saw the type as a kid, reading a book that made an impression and crossing the St Lawrence on the way to the grandparents’ farm.

I’ve posted Great Lakes photos a fair number of times in the past few years, so I continue CYPHER series here with Manitowoc –a river-size self unloader–departing Cleveland for Milwaukee.

Alpena–1942–with the classic house-forward design transports cement.  I was thrilled to pass her late this summer on a magnificent Lake Huron afternoon.

Although you might not guess it, Algoma Harvester was built here half a world away from the Lakes.  To get to her trading waters, she crossed two oceans, and christened less than four years ago.  The selling point is that she carries more cargo than typically carried within the size parameters of a laker (Seawaymax), requires fewer crew, and exhausts cleaner.  I took the photo on the Welland.

Thunder Bay hails from the same river in China as Algoma Harvester and just a year earlier.  The photo was taken near Montreal in the South Shore Canal.

Tim S. Dool was built on a Canadian saltwater port in 1967.  I caught her here traversing the American Narrows on the St. Lawrence.

American Mariner was built in Wisconsin in 1979.   In the photo below she heads unbound on Lake St. Louis. I’ve seen her several times recently, here at night and here upbound St. Clair River.

Baie St. Paul is a slightly older, nearly identical Chinese built sister to Thunder Bay.

Algolake, launched 1977,  was among the boats built in the last decade of the Collingwood Shipyard.  

Lee R. Tregurtha, here down bound in Port Huron,  has to have among the most interesting history of any boat currently called a laker.  She was launched near Baltimore in 1942 as a T-3 tanker, traveled the saltwater world for two decades, and then came to the lakes.  I  also caught her loading on Huron earlier this year here.

Mississagi is another classic, having worked nearly 3/4 of a century on the Lakes.

Buffalo, 1978 Wisconsin built, and I have crossed paths lots recently, earlier this month here.  The photo below was taken near Mackinac;  you can see part of the bridge off her stern. Tug Buffalo from 1923, the one going to the highest bidder in five days, now stands to go to the bidder with $2600 on the barrelhead.

I’ll close this installment out with lake #12 in this post . . . .    Hon. James L. Oberstar, with steel mill structures in the background, has been transporting cargo on the lakes since the season of 1959.  She is truly a classic following that steering pole. See Oberstar in her contexts here, here, and really up close, personal, and almost criminally so for the diligent photographer, here.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.  More to come.



Here are all the previous “pairs” post, a direction I glanced at after seeing Bouchard Boys and Linda Lee Bouchard rafted up last weekend . . .  I’m not sure why the formation, but it certainly showed their relative size.

And once I see a pattern in one place, I start to notice it in others.  Here Otter and Pike almost appear to be in the right lane for Exit 10.   I’m eager to see Muskie and Gar.

Over in Hudson Yards below “the vessel” a pair of Schenectady’s finest EMDs hold a place in the rotation out east.

Between Montreal and Trois-Rivieres lies Lac St. Pierre, where I saw this pair.  To the right, I’ve already commented that Espada used to call in the sixth boro as Stena Poseidon.  Now I look up Laurentian–to the left–and discover she used to call in our watery boro as Palva!   If it’s about the witness protection program, the effort would be foolproof.  I’d never have seen Palva in her new color, suggesting to me that paint and color trump lines.

A report that continues to fascinate me about Lac St. Pierre is that it spawns “ice rocks,” which are rocks that become embedded in the winter ice in the shallow portions of the lake that freeze solid all the way to the lakebed, until these rocks are carried downstream encased in floating ice and become lethal targets for fast spinning propellers.  Ice rocks, what a concept!

Pairs of dug canal banks, as seen in midSeptember west of Rome, show how surveyor straight some parts of the waterway are.

Guard gates are essential canal infrastructure.

And I’ll conclude with a pair of liberty statues, one pointed east and the other west.  A few of you will know immediately where a pair of these “crowns” a building, and I’ll just wait for someone to make the identification.

All photos by Will Van Dorp, who asks as treat that you share your favorite tugster post or obsession or vessel  . . . today with some friends.  Be safe.

Oh, and one of my favorites is this post I did about a Halloween-escape trip seven (!!) years ago.


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